Saturday, October 14, 2017

Successful application in UKVI's strict system

I've been recently (~ 2 weeks ago)  given a tier-4 visa study in the United Kingdom:

A post shared by George Chalhoub (@georgechalhoub) on

However, I'd be a liar if I say that the process has been easy or straightforward. In fact, obtaining that visa was a long and tedious process which has cost a lot of money, time, paperwork (and an acceptance at St Andrews).

GO.UK has a clear guide to applying for a tier-4 visa application but it doesn't have all the details and more detailed PDF documents ( > 100 pages) have to be read to make sure you are compliant with all of their guidelines.

What are the most recent UK Visa incidents?

Starting the application 

That wasn't hard because of a new beta system called Visa4UK where you sign up, sign in and apply for a visa application online. There is no need anymore to fill any papers. It is intended to be used by applicants from abroad.

Making the payments

All visa applications require you to pay an amount of 456$, plus an immigration health surcharge of 300$ which totals 800$. The amount is only refundable if you don't attend your visa interview and withdraw your application online prior to your interview time. If your visa application has been unsuccessful, the amount remains nonrefundable. 

Setting up an interview 

Luckily, that was easy as well. After making the payment, you will be able to set up an interview date using the UKVI's web application Visa4UK. I don't have a screenshot anymore of the page but it looks like this (My interview was not in May 2017, illustration picture only):

Degree award delayed

Despite finishing all my courses and requirements at university in July 2017, the university was unable to provide me with a degree telling me to actually wait until September 2017 because of the vote of the Senate. This is clearly an issue as St Andrews University (where I have an acceptance) starts on the 8th of September 2017. I would not be able to catch my university on time. 

Emailing UKVI

At that point, I've had to email UKVI and ask if I can apply for a Tier-4 visa before my degree was officially awarded and the answer was no.

Emailing UKVI again

At this point, I was really desperate; I told them about my issue and that I would be late for St Andrews but the answer was still no:

Postponing the interview 

At that point, I have no choice but to postpone my visa interview until my degree was awarded.

No degree awarded yet 

On September the 2nd, LAU still didn't award me my degree. 

Withdrawing my visa application

At this point, I've decided to withdraw my visa application and I realized it is unrealistic to attend St Andrews anymore which starts on the 8th of September. Even if the visa is awarded (which would take time), I would be very late to register for and attend St Andrews.

Informing St Andrews I'm not attending 

That was done in writing as you see below:

Official Degree Awarded

Finally, the good people of LAU have given my degree on the 7th of September.

Checking another university

At this stage, I've confirmed to the University of Southampton that I'm attending (already had an acceptance) and I've asked them to issue a CAS. The university was set to start on 28 September.

Starting new visa application

That was done quickly and urgently. New payments were set.

Parents joint bank account issue

One of the UKVI's major Tier-4 visa requirements is proving that you can finance yourself. I've had decided to use parent's joint bank account. But it turns out, it wasn't accepted. UKCISA has reported:

It’s important to be aware that according to page 52 of the Tier 4 policy guidance and paragraph 1A(k) of Appendix C of the Immigration Rules you are only allowed to use money held in a joint bank account if you are one of the named account holders.  If you use a joint account that is not in your name then there is a risk that your Tier 4 application will be refused.

Requesting copy of urgent sponsorship letter

So I've had now to urgently request from my partial sponsor Fondation Sesam to send me a letter of partial sponsorship support to provide with my application. And they did quickly:

A post shared by George Chalhoub (@georgechalhoub) on

Registering with TLSContact Beirut

This is UKVI's commercial partner that handles all visa applications and interviews in person. I've had to register there and link application and confirm interview times:

Paying for priority visa

Attending the interview

September 13: I've attended the video interview and submitted my passport and all the documentation required.

Application transferred to UKVI

September 13: The application was transferred for decision.

Application received by UKVI 

September 17: The application was received for decision by the UKVI.

Decision Made by UKVI

September 24: The application was accessed for decision by the UKVI.

Passport ready for collection

September 25: The password was ready for collection by TLSContact.

Visa acceptance letter

I've picked up my password and the letter informing me the visa application has been successful.

What next?

I've left Lebanon in few days to catch up with the University of Southampton.


  1. Your article would be of great help for all those who wants to apply for UK immigration. Thanks for telling about the site Visa4UK for easy accessibility of visa forms.